Wednesday, November 28, 2012

For the ladies in your life....Christmas Pick List

Time to head out to find the perfect gift for the the special women in your life.
I have a few ideas I thought I'd share.



For the new mom. 
A vintage lamp from brand new Etsy shop Penelope Plum would be one of those...Gasp. "I LOVE it!".. gifts. I personally have two and I'm obsessed with them. They make a nursery or playroom. This would be a darling and unique surprise for any hipster baby.



Want to make the baby gift yourself? Get a crochet pattern from Bootie Heels. Ridiculously darling.



For your mom.

The Baby's Bundle has gads of great gifts for babies and new moms. But my favorite item is something for any special woman, the adult minky throws. Its the most luxurious blanket you will ever sleep with. I have one, but as you can see, Lydia steals it from me daily. I've given up and let her keep it on her bed. Which means I'll have to get another one for myself. I promise, your mom will love it. Color requests are taken. (Mine in yellow on the other side)


For your best friend or sister.

I have this wallet from Happy Kathy and I get compliments wherever I go. Once in a meeting, the person speaking asked me to hold it up to show it to the 50 other women gathered. :) It's gorgeous. A perfect gift for the stylish women. 



For your little girl.

For less that $6, the Melissa & Doug Sticker Collection - Fashion is my most favorite little girl gift. Over the past few years I've bought Lydia about 5 of them and each time it totally consumes her free time for about 4 days. I give her a huge stack of copy paper and she designs outfits for hours. When she's done, you toss the book and call it good. Perfect add on gift for Christmas morning. 

(Add it to your amazon purchase to help you get to free shipping over $25)



For a young woman. Or really anyone special.

One Line a Day - A Five Year Memory Book. The 365 daily entries appear five times on each page, allowing users to revisit previous thoughts and memories over five years as they return to each page to record the current day's events. I've been using mine for 2 years now and I'm so grateful for the small details of my day that I have forever recorded. I bought mine at Urban Outfitters, but it's also on amazon and Barnes and Noble. There is also one for the New Mom.


For the teacher.

I have a couple friends who are teachers and I asked them what they like to get as "teacher gifts". Both said...nothing with apples! I guess it's common for teachers to be bombarded with apple themed stuff, so stay away from that. Personally I think its best to get something you would like to receive. Like a $10 gift certificate to Starbucks (Who doesn't want a nice hot chocolate this time of year?) Maybe some Burt's Bees hand lotion? I also love this snack bag from Better Life Bags. Something stylish for your child's teacher to toss in her bag before heading out to the classroom. Check out the bags too! So cute!


I love looking for the perfect gift. Hope this list helps. As for me, can someone hint to Shane I want to find the Michael Bublé christmas album in my stocking this year? Or this necklace. Whichever. 
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Don't forget to enter to win a $100 gift certificate to Stanley Steemers! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Stanley Steemer $100 Gift Certificate! Ends Friday.



I know everyone is online trying to get the best deals possible, so I thought I'd join in the fun and offer a fantastic giveaway to Stanley Steemer!!!!

I love a nice clean carpet, especially for the holidays. I used to go the whole "DIY" route, but it was just too much of a headache. And I never could get my carpets near as clean as I wanted them. I turned to Stanley Steemer and never looked back. They do an awesome job. They are so professional and they know how to get things clean. They got a spilled bottle of nail polish off my bathroom carpet! 


  • With more than 60 years as the dirt authority, Stanley Steemer cleaning experts are certified to remove more than 98 percent of dry soil from floors – a rate significantly higher than self-cleaning methods
  • Not just for carpet cleaning, Stanley Steemer’s expertise extends to hardwood, tile, air ducts, water damage restoration, and more!
  • Their water extraction process provides a deep-down clean, perfect for cleaning up after the holidays

To help you see through the dirt that lurks in your home and really make it merry and bright, the experts in the field from Stanley Steemer offer these holiday tips for maintaining a cleaner, healthier home:

With the holidays come the house guests
Reduce the amount of dirt and mud that may get tracked into your home by using indoor and outdoor entrance mats.

Pickup in a flash
Why deny the inevitable? At some point this season you’ll deal with red wine, gravy, pine needles or candle wax drippings on the carpet. Remember to act quickly to clean up any spills or stains; consider keeping a professional spot remover handy at all time or use items commonly found around the home such as white vinegar and baking soda.

Dirt is the ultimate scrooge
Keep up with the high traffic areas in the home, especially during entertaining season, by vacuuming them two to three times a week and the rest of your carpets at least once a week.

Great tips! My tip? Schedule an appointment with Stanley Steemer before your holiday guests arrive! And make sure to like Stanley Steemer on Facebook to keep up to date with specials. 

One natalie's sentiments reader will be receiving a $100 gift certificate to Stanley Steemer!

To enter: Tell me what room in your house most needs a good carpet cleaning!

Extra entry if you're a natalie's sentiments follower and let me know in a separate comment.
Extra entry if you're a natalie's sentiments facebook fan and let me know in a separate comment.

Winner announced December 1st
The Stanley Steemer gift certificate, information, and two gift packs have been provided by Stanley Steemer

__________________________________________
Winner! 

The winner of Maurice Sendak's The Nutcracker is Natalie Cottam. Congrats! Email me and I will get you your prize. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My First Southern Thanksgiving

I have a list of life events that I want to write about for my journal. Things I may have missed even if they occurred years ago. Last night the house was quiet and the rain was falling. I thought I would write about my first Thanksgiving I spent in the South. 

I think I will always miss the South the most during the Fall. Glorious is the best word to describe it. Finally a reprieve from the misery of the humid summer, cool breezes are met with an eruption of breathtaking color.

We moved to the mountains of North Carolina the May after Shane graduated from school. Nothing could quite prepare me for the culture shock of that experience. We had not only moved to the South, but rural South. We moved to an unincorporated town that was more like a tiny spread out village. The only business that I remember was a farmers market. Drive 10 minutes and you reach another town of bed and breakfasts and a restaurant or two and some gift shops. This was leaf country. People come to admire the beauty, stay for a weekend. 15 minutes away and you get to the "big" town with a whopping population of 2,000.  

We loved it.

Sure, I could hardly understand what half the people were saying, and our little country home was haunted (I need to write about that!). Even so, we were just so intoxicated with the beauty, charm and seclusion of it all. It was a wonderful time in our marriage.

After a month I found the most incredible job. A little over 30 minutes up the mountain was the most darling town, Highlands. A idilic summer retreat for the ubber wealthy of Atlanta and Florida. You could call it the Hamptons of the South. It may be one of the most beautiful places on earth. If you can get past the terrifying winding mountain roads to get there. The drive up is famous as one of the most beautiful drives in the nation, but it's scary. I drove it everyday for months. The air is always cool there, even in mid summer. The town is surrounded by waterfalls, lakes, and far stretching vistas. It's a place you never want to leave.

I was hired on at an upscale art gallery/auction house. (Look mom and dad, I DID use my major!) The owner was a 7th generation Southerner. He said he wanted a pretty face who could smile at men, make friends with the women and talk about art if I needed too. Oh yea, and he was a totally sexist. I really didn't care. I never saw him and the job was amazing. 

The family who owned the gallery were collectors. During the winter when the road was too treacherous to drive, the gallery closed, and this family would tour Europe and Asia looking for treasures to ship back. Paintings, sculptures, antique furniture, rugs and jewelry. You could probably guess I was a bit jealous of their life.

A funny thing about this family was they also tended to collect people on their travels. The gallery was the most amazing blend of cultures. The man who managed the Oriental Rugs was flown over every summer from Pakistan. He had the best sense of humor. The Art specialist was European and he liked to make fun of my "accent". The man that showed the jewelry was a jeweler from Israel. He and I would talk for hours about Jerusalem and our religions. My favorite employee was a young man from Scandinavia. He was the only year round employee and it was rumored he was actually found homeless and was taken in by the gallery family. He was there to move things around when asked and I never really heard him say anything. He spent his quiet moments drawing in a sketchbook. 

For the entire season of June to October we showed goods to people who wanted to spend money. It was gads of fun. It was not a strange night to make over a million dollars. Man, I wished I was paid on commission. The jeweler let me wear whatever jewelry I wanted and everyday I picked up the $80,000 canary diamond ring out of the case and wore it on my right hand. I think that started my love of yellow. I was pretty sad the day it sold.  When a piece was taken out of crates, we would all study it for a bit and decide were it should be displayed and what should be said about it at auction. Nothing thrilled me more than when I helped sell a Picasso. 

The men called me the yankee girl and made fun of me for never drinking anything from the open bar except Diet Coke. The older Floridian office manager and I became friends and she and I would have lunch at the tea house down the street or splurge and go to one of the 4 star restaurants. Those were the only dining options. On rainy days when the gallery was quiet, the men would talk about their families far away and how different their homes were from America. They would ask me about what life was like in the United States, since they had never explored beyond this mountain town. We were a very strange medley of friends by the end.

By the beginning of November the roads had become dangerous and the summer residents had left. The gallery staff packed up the remaining goods and got ready to close. The owner's wife announced that the next day would be Thanksgiving. The rest of the staff was ecstatic as they explained the gallery tradition of a farewell Thanksgiving dinner at the end of the season. 

The next day I arrived to find the usually cold gallery, warm with the smells of cooking turkey and baking. The men had changed from their suits to khakis and sweaters, their smiles contagious. Their excitement for the food to come and the next day's flights home was palpable. I even heard the Scandinavian boy speak a few halting words. 

The bar room was filled a large antique table set with impeccable china. But nothing could compare to the mountainous food. I was 26 and had experienced many Thanksgivings, but never anything like this feast. Baskets of savory cornbread surrounded the golden turkey. Dressing with chestnuts and currents. Giblet gravy. Chedder and Gruyere grits. Pimento cheese with celery and crackers. Herb scented rice with oysters. Green beans sauteed with shallots and pecans. Banana pudding. Sweet potato pie and pecan pie. 


I had never tried half the things on the table, but for me, nothing had ever felt more like Thanksgiving. I sat at a table of people I had only know a few months. We were from vastly different cultures. But as we dove into the feast that had been lovingly prepared, we laughed and called each other friends. We talked of the upcoming summer season when we would meet again. My heart was very full that day as I drove the long road home.

Sadly, I never did return the next season. Shane was transfered to Chattanooga and we said goodbye to our little country home. I had planned to make the trip back to attend a gallery show, but I had a baby and never quite made it. However to this day I'm grateful for that Thanksgiving Feast. I'm thankful for those small experiences that bring back a moment of time to savor. And I'm grateful for the people in our lives who may only stay a moment, but make our memories full.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Shane's Thanksgiving Pancakes

We're watching some of our friend's kids for a bit before church this morning, so Shane thought it was a good day to do his famous pancakes, just in time for Thanksgiving. 

(Sorry for the pic quality. I'm too lazy to use anything but my phone on a lazy Sunday morning.)






Shane, you're a rock star.

Any requests for particular Christmas pancakes? 

___________________

Winners!

The winner of the LDS Wall art is Jenny.
The winner of the Minted Holiday cards is Kristen.

Congrats ladies! Email me within 48 hours and I will get you your prize!

Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Maurice Sendak's The Nutcracker
Awesome giveaway coming up after Thanksgiving. Make sure to check back!


Friday, November 16, 2012

InstaFriday #22 - Florida

(This very long post is mostly for the grandparents. But you're welcome to read it too!)

Our trip to Florida was wonderful. Perfect weather, fantastic company. 

As soon as we walked out of the airport, I breathed in the humid air and felt at home.

I miss the South.


My sister Molly lives in Jacksonville and we stayed the first couple days with her family in their adorable home. 

The first day we just laid around in our jammies and ate Molly's yummy cooking. 

(Molly, you and Wayne are the best hosts!)



The next day we hit the beach. First time the kids had ever seen the ocean.


First time ever building a sand castle. 


Lydia was a pro.


She also had no fear wading right into the water.



Collin on the other hand, stayed safely on the shore. 


Daddy was brave enough to join her.



Collin was pretty excited when suddenly the tide came in and a little kiddie pool appeared.



Sweet cousin Sam was the most excited though.


After practicing for a bit in the kiddie pool....


Collin let Daddy take him out into the water. 
"Just hold on tight Daddy!"



We need to move to a costal city.


But, having a sister who does is a good alternative. 



Next we headed over to Orlando. Kids swam for a bit, grown ups played some cards.


Next day we hit Disney World!!!



Little tip. Head to Disney World on a rainy election day.



You won't stand in a single line.


You'll just ride all day long.











"Smile Collin!"





I love that my daughter is still young enough to wave to the princesses. 



It was the perfect day. 


 Shane and I headed back that evening. 
Disneyworld is pretty romantic at night. 



We headed to Universal Studios Island of Adventure next. 



Seuss Landing is pretty cute. The kids could have stayed there all day.



They rode the carousal like 5 times. 

There wasn't any wait time at the the Universal rides either. 


Lydia liked Camp Jurassic the best. 

"Watch out Liddy!!!!"


For me, it was ALL about Harry Potter Land. It was incredible. 





Nothing like $4 lollypops at Honeydukes!



The good dads took the kids off for a few kiddie rides. 


Which left the moms free to rock Hogswarts.


Down some Butterbeer. 

So good! Recipe here



And head to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. 
Which is pretty much the coolest ride imaginable. 
It was like actually being in Hogwarts. Fantastic. Worth the price of admission just to do it. 

Molly and I were totally dorks and discussed which "house" we would be in. She said I'd be in Hufflepuff. I still haven't forgiven her. 


Another great day.


Shane and I had our fill of amusement parks, so the next day we left the kids with my sister and headed to a beach hotel in St. Augustine. And slept for the entire afternoon.


Woke up in time for a romantic date night.

Then back for a night of uninterrupted sleep. 

Shane and I like to vacation the same way. 
As long as there is plenty of sleep, food and relaxing, we're happy.



The next morning we took a little stroll down the beach.


Climbed the St. Augustine lighthouse. 
It was terrifying. 



Toured the the Castillo de San Marcos. 


Walked around the town, ate food that our kids would have hated and daydreamed about moving to a beach bungalow. 


Pretty much the best vacation ever.

(Thank you again Molly and Wayne. We miss you guys!)

*****

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